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Avani – Ramalingeshwara Temple of the 10th Century Nolambas

Center part of the temple complex. Backdrop is the Lava-Kush hill.Nolamba Dynasty is the only Kannada dysnasty which ever ruled, this part of Karnataka – they did rule for a period of 300 years! regining from 735 to 1052 AD. Their kingdom was one-third portion of today’s modern Karnataka, part Andhra Pradesh and part Tamilnadu. Their capital was Hemavathi, currently in Andhra Pradesh. Nolambas were initially feudatories to the Pallavas, Chalukyas of Badami, Gangas, Rastrakutas and later to the Chalukyas of Kalyani. At times they were independent. They were prosperous during the reign of the powerful Rastrakutas. Nolamba’s ruled Kolar, Avani, Begur, Aralaguppe, Nonavinakere, Ayapamangalam, Chikkamadhure, Baraguru, Nandi, Sivaram – all inside Karnataka. Hemavathi in Andhra Pradesh, which was their Capital. Dharmapuri, Mahendramangalam in Tamilnadu came under their rule. One can find roughly 250 epigraphs of the Nolamba Dynasty in good condition featuring their rule and achievements. At Begur, near Koramangala off Bommanahalli – Nageshwara temple, one can find an epigraph, which mentions the Nolambas dating their existence in 890 AD.
Avani is a small hamlet, which is 32 Kms from Kolar and 13 Kms from Mulbagal. Just 6.5 Kms off the old Madras road highway. Mulbagal was once called the main gateway to the south, it’s name means ‘the first main gate’ the Vijayanagar Kingdom considered Mulbagal as the main gate to their kingdom, this side of the planet. It’s recent mention during the British times is made famous because of it’s mention at the ‘Battle of Mulbagal’ – the ‘First Anglo – Mysore War’, fought between Tipu Sultan’s father Hyder Ali and the British East India Company during 1767 -69.
Avani, this picturesque village with hills, lakes, green fertile fields, swaying palm trees existed from epic times. This place was the residence of Sage Valmiki, the author of Ramayana. He also sheltered Sita Devi when she was deserted by Lord Ram. It’s here Lava – Kush, their twin son’s were born. There’s a hill named as Lava-Kusha Betta here. ASI – The Archeological Society of India has records that Avani existed since 399 AD.
Avani’s cluster group of temples in one unified compound is unique and first. It’s a themed Ramayan temple. There are 4 major shrines, one each for Rama, Lakshmana, Bharatha and Shatrugna and smaller shrines for Vali and Sugriva. There are shrines for Lord Shiva – here he’s called Ramalingeshwara. There are shrines for Hanuman, here called Ramangenya. Of course the consort of Lord Shiva, there’s a Parvati temple. Lord Vishnu, Lord Ganesha Idols too are present with a beautiful Nandi – the bull enshrined in an exclusive beautiful stone mantap. An exclusive Sita Devi temple is atop the hill of Lava-Kusha Betta. The temple complex is adjacent to a beautiful pond enveloped by swaying coconut palm trees. The temple is Dravidian Stone Block architecture in style. It’s cool and comfortable once you enter the temple complex.. It’s serene and divine.
This Ramalingeshwara temple was first built by the Nolamba Queen, Devambika after she lost her first born son Vira Mahendra, she wanted her second son Iriva Nolamba to ascend the throne. Later all dynasties who ruled this part of Karnataka added their bit. One can see the architectural presence of Cholas, Pallavas, Gangas, Hoysala – Vijayanagar Kings. The Nolamba’s didn’t have a distinctive style, they modified and adapted the Chalukya and Pallava style of construction and architecture. Raja Raja I, the Chola Emperor invaded the Nolambas, and occupied most parts of the Kingdom during his rule.
This temple complex is well maintained by ASI and poojas take place regularly. The villagers are very proud of their heritage and guard these shrines zealously. Avani, being a small village, one needs to carry everything one needs. Having your transport is advantageous. Local transport of buses, autos and vans are better from Mulbagal than Kolar. Avani is a right turn off from the highway after the 2nd toll booth on Old Madras Road. Signs are well displayed. Leaving Bangalore, one has to traverse onward taking the Krishnarajpuram suspension bridge. Avani is 100 Kms of good roads from Bangalore. All eateries of good choice are on the highway. Vegetarian food is advisable. Non-vegetarian food one has to rely on roadside dhabas. It’s better to start early in the day, climb the hill, good trekking for fitness buffs and visit the foothills temple complex of Ramalingeshwara for divine intervention.
This temple complex is interesting for photographers, artists, historians, architects and passionate history buffs. Except for the hill climb, the temple complex can be visited by one and all – young and old. It’s a recommended day trip site from Bengaluru.

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